Farewell to hyperpop: The rise and fall of the internet’s most hated ‘genre’

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What is hyper-pop? Digicore, what is it? Artists quinn, daine and Babii settle the score once and for everyone

super-pop is a simulation,” reads the text that accompanies Spotify’s now infamous playlist. Launched in 2019, following the unlikely popularity of 100 gecs, the hyperpop playlist was originally intended to platform the extremely online strain of experimental music that critics like to call hyperpop. Born on SoundCloud via Discord servers and Minecraft channels, the sound is maximalist, chaotic and lo-fi, with many original artists in their teens or early twenties. In a article I wrote last year23-year-old artist Alice Gas described the music as “being made by kids in their bedrooms with microphones and FL Studio”.

Since then, however, the word has become a catch-all phrase for all forms of extreme pop music, brilliant sounds of Computer music and the AutoTuned croons of Drain Gang, to the glitch howls of Alice Glass and the cyborgian lullabies of Arca. Sonically, you’d be hard pressed to find music created on the internet in the past decade that hasn’t been retroactively labeled as hyperpop. The music ranges from nonsensical pop to Soundcloud rap and intimate experimentalism – a mix so seemingly disparate that the only thing that brings them together is their knack for pushing the boundaries of pop.

If the word “simulation” connotes an imitation of something, then “hyperpop” is both a simulation of itself and of the music it claims to represent. It’s a nebulous term, encompassing a huge range of styles, sounds, and scenes that seem bound together only by their propensity for extremes. Industry leaders love it, artists hate it. In less than two years, it’s gone from genre du jour to genre not – the mere mention of it is enough to make everyone’s eyes roll. “It’s like anyone pushing the boundaries of electronic pop right now gets labeled ‘hyperpop,'” says London-based artist twst. “I imagine it can be frustrating for people who feel like they’ve been put in a box, and one that’s specifically curated by the hands of the company since ‘hyperpop’ is a term coined by Spotify.”

Almost everyone who received the label became disillusioned with the term or irritated by its constraints. For example, a press release for an 18-year-old hyperpop band midwxst’s Back to action EP urged critics to avoid the term. “He’s part of this group of young kids leading this new subset of music…but he’s definitely not boxed in to the hyperpop sound and on his new music he’s breaking the genre,” it reads.

The fact that no one really knows what hyperpop is fuels its nebulous nature. “No one knows where Spotify got the name ‘Hyperpop’ from,” umru, an artist signed to PC Music, tells me.

To make matters more confusing, Apple launched its own version of hyperpop, dubbed glitchcore, following the success of the original Spotify playlist. After being frustrated by these coined terms and bottom-up corporate branding exercises, artists – like angelus, d0llywood, midwxst, all of which had previously been classified as hyperpop – took matters into their own hands, choosing the term digicore Instead. As the 16-year-old d0llywood producer said at the time, “We’re not PC Music, we’re not glitchcore. We are hyper-kids who make pop. The pop is strong, it’s hyper.

“Digicore was a bit of a joke at first until people started to like it better than hyperpop” – quinn

“Digicore was a bit of a joke at first until people started to like it better than hyperpop,” says Quinn, the 17-year-old producer who became the face of hyperpop in 2020, after her track “i don’t want many friends in the first place” amassed tens of millions of streams and saw her become the first artist from her SoundCloud scene to appear on the cover of Spotify’s Playlist. (attracted) people who were pissed off that no one could find a name (for their) music. But, over the years, that faded due to the schisms between styles that evolved from There are a lot of artists who fall under hyperpop when they are more experimental – but that’s mainly because no one knows which labels the two are.

Quinn describes hyperpop as having a more polished sound: “Saw waves, metallic sounds, soft synths, all brand new”. Digicore, on the other hand, is “much dirtier, with untamed soundscapes and distorted 808s that usually overpower the entire song”. (That said, Quinn has since dismissed both terms altogether, going so far as to remove all related songs from her Soundcloud page).

Kuru, a 16-year-old producer who burst onto the hyperpop scene alongside other Soundcloud artists d0llywood1, angelus, Blackwinterwells, waifu, MISOGI and ginseng, describes the shift from hyperpop to digicore as less of a change of sound, more artists are tired of the label being put on their work. “Hyperpop has the craziest sound combinations,” he explains. “YesWe would have people mostly just on the cloud rap side banding together with indie pop and electronic artists, and it was a confusing ordeal, because that term suits so many people. I think digicore was just more of a shift towards describing artists and sounds that felt more homemade and raw and less professional and poppy.

“For a lot of people, (hyperpop is) a buzzword to describe anything that has a lot of Autotune, but for people in specific online spaces, it’s a broad word used to easily describe a certain ecosystem of artists,” adds daine. Following the release of his Dylan Brady-productreleased the single “Boys Wanna Txt” last year, youMelbourne artist has become one of the first Australians to grace the cover of Spotify’s Hyperpop playlist. His music, a moody mix of ethereal soundscapes, introspective lyrics and harsh trap beats, is inspired by the Midwestern emo movement of the 2000s, as well as emo rappers like Lil Peep and Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. Although she doesn’t identify as hyperpop, she runs a bi-monthly online party Nocturne, which features the whos-who of the hyperpop and digicore communities, from Charli XCX to umru, Alice Gas to ericdoa. “I don’t think there are any clear parameters for either genre, and the increased use of ‘digicore’ as a descriptor probably arose from how the term ‘hyperpop’ is more and more vague,” she added. “But at the end of the day, most of the names most strongly associated with these genre labels come from very similar online spaces.”

“One day people will move away from it and it won’t be relevant anymore and I wouldn’t want to melt with the hyperbourg” – Babii

One of the biggest problems hyperpop faces is that it basically tries to bring together artists whose music resists classification. “I think anyone who gets thrown into a category or labeled as a stereotype is going to want to get out of it because it kind of erases your uniqueness or your identity to some degree, you become part of a crowd rather than an individual” , said Babii. “One day people will move away from it and it won’t be relevant anymore and I wouldn’t want to blend in with the hyperbourg.”

The British producer’s 2021 album MiiRROR brings forth a visceral world of dragon angels and demons, which serve as metaphors for her chaotic childhood and ongoing struggle with mother figures. Despite the so-called characteristics of hyperpop – the heavily processed vocals give the songs a cyborg quality, while the metallic percussion adds to the synthetic vibe – the musicit is also soft and delicate, an intimate work which, like a mirror, asks its listener to reflect. Babii thinks, “I have a hard time being part of it sometimes because my music is so personal and full of my deepest secrets and there’s a lot of hyperpop parts playing on jokes and memes and it’s kinda scary to be so vulnerable in a place like this.”

The British producer’s 2021 album MiiRROR brings forth a visceral world of dragon angels and demons, which serve as metaphors for her chaotic childhood and ongoing struggle with mother figures. Despite the so-called hallmarks of hyperpop – heavily processed vocals give the songs a cyborg quality, while metallic percussion adds to the synthetic vibe – the music is also soft and delicate, an intimate work that, like a mirror , requires reflection on his part. listener. Babii reflects, “I find it hard to be a part of it sometimes because my music is so personal and full of my deepest secrets and there are a lot of hyperpop parts that play on jokes and memes and that. is kinda scary to be so vulnerable in a place like this.

Since its initial boom, many young artists originally envisioned as hyperpop have gone on to successful careers that transgress the boundaries of the term. Quinn’s 2021 debut driving lullabies moves away from the sugary tone of previous tracks, favoring elements of dark ambiance and drum’n’bass instead. Glaive, another of the scene’s teenagers, eschewed the bedroom-produced chiptune melodies of his previous work in favor of frenetic pop and sleek production. “I think the word hyperpop has become a bit oversaturated,” he emails me. “I definitely started to walk away from that community because now I feel like I’m doing more pop music.”

It was only a matter of time before the hyperpop community began to tire of its limitations – especially as many of the artists behind the initial boom have aged and gained worldwide recognition (sword and his frequent collaborator ericadoa are now signed to Interscope Records). These days, the term sounds more like a corporate branding exercise than a creative flex, asking the question: is it time to burst the bubble and move on?

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